ripples in the water

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As the day drew to a close and the lake guests went their separate ways, Devon and Amber pulled themselves out of the water to rest lazily on the dock and watch the sun set.  It wasn’t often they got to enjoy those quiet moments together as the lake grew busier and the responsibilities of their lives pulled them elsewhere, so they made sure to enjoy the sunsets they could.  They knew life was too short to squander those fleeting moments.

It had been another magical day.  They’d each saved a couple lives as they patrolled the water.  Their assistance had been vital for the young and old alike.  Sometimes all that was required was a push towards shore to get little legs back on solid ground.  Sometimes it was a steadying hand or calming influence for tiring bodies.  Sometimes it was giving someone a boost up from the depths when too much playing had sent them floundering below.  Whatever the need, the couple were their to offer aid.

When not needed elsewhere, Devon and Amber were able to steal moments together to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the cooling kiss of the water, their touch, their companionship.  Then duty would call and they would rush off again to help one of the visitors, one of the many thankless tasks of their daily lives.  Sometimes the youngest ones would know enough to say thank you, but it was a rare occurrence and seemed to be getting even more scarce with each new sunrise.

From their perch on the dock, as they reflected on the day, their arms intertwined, their bodies leaning towards each other, they marveled at the stillness of the lake.  So many people were playing, splashing, rowing, swimming, from sun up until the moments before it set into the horizon that the lake seemed normal only when it was choppy.  It was easy to forget that calm was normal too.

That didn’t deter them from letting their fins dip into the water to create a few tiny ripples swirling away from them as they kissed.  Then they slipped back into the water as the sun disappeared to rest up for the next day.  The ripples in the water were the only evidence they had been there at all.


Since I was a bit late this week, and had already read a couple other responses, I wanted to do something a bit different.  Hopefully, you didn’t catch on that they weren’t human until the very end.  Anyway, this was my response to this week’s Once More with Feeling prompt provided moi.

What do you see when you look at the picture?  Write it, link it, post it!

except no

a day of roses, except no, because the cats would eat them
a day of cards, except no, because the little prince would shred them
a day of feelings, except no, because those get hidden behind our masks
a day of truths, except no, because we only ever deliver those partially
a day of devotion, except no, because we spread ourselves too thin

a day of love, except no, because that is every day

a day of fellowship, except no, because that is every day
a day of hugs, except no, because that is every day
a day of kisses, except no, because that is every day
a day of romance, except no, because that is every day
a day of chocolates, except no, because that is every day

a day of love, except no, that is also every day


conventional and unconventional, surprises and planned, passionate and silly

every single day is what we choose to make of it, or not…

what are you going to do today?

Can’t Hardly Q and A

This week’s theme is fairly evident, if you haven’t figured it out just based on the post title, it’s all quotes from Can’t Hardly Wait.  This series was thrown together based on a request from The Queen.  It was on TV a few weeks ago, we were watching it, and she was amazed with how many lines I knew.  She said, “This should be one of your movie posts,” and now it is.

Do you have a movie you’d like me include in these Q and A sessions?  Or a theme?  Or a specific actor?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can put together for you.

(All previous Q and A iterations are here.)

As a reminder:  The Q’s are life situations you may find yourself in, and the A’s are the corresponding quotes from movies that you could considering using in those situations if you were mad like me.  But, I am a professional Jester, so take that into consideration before trying them on your own.

Q: What should you say to someone who says they are good at tanning?
A: “There’s a mirror right there. Take a look, you’re white.”
– Denise (Lauren Ambrose)

Q: While discussing favorite female character roles with friends, what should you add to the conversation?
A: “You know who else I like that didn’t get much play? Velma from Scooby-Doo. She was cool. She was a hip, hip lady.”
– Stoner Guy (Brian Klugman)

Q: What should you say to someone who is questioning the direction their life is headed?
A: “Fate! There is such a thing as fate, but it only takes you so far. Then it’s up to you to make it happen.”
– Angel Stripper (Jenna Elfman)

Q: What should you say to a friend who is grieving over a lost relationship?
A: “You know what they say about women and trolley cars. There’s plenty of ’em in the sea.”
– William (Charlie Korsmo)

Q: I don’t really have a question for this one.  I just like it.  But, if you think of a question to go with this as the answer leave it in the comments.
A: “I roll up on that shorty be like, “What’s up yo?” she be like, “You don’t know 20 different ways to make me call you Big Poppa” cuz I don’t yo.”
– Kenny Fisher (Seth Green)

Q: What should you say to your flock?
A: “You are all sheep. Baah!”
– Earth Girl (Sara Rue)

Q: What should you say after taking the first sip of a newly tapped keg?
A: “Nobody drink the beer, the beer has gone bad!”
– William (Charlie Korsmo)

Q: What should you say to your girlfriend/wife/significant other when they ask how they look in a new outfit?
A: “Seriously, and you’re like Gwyneth.”
– Rachel (Jennifer Lyons)

Q: What should you say when someone calls you weird?
A: “You’re the one calling Barry Mannilow from a phone booth at 2:00 am”
– Angel Stripper (Jenna Elfman)

Q: What should you say any time you are really excited about something?
A: “I can’t feel my legs, I HAVE NO LEGS!”
– William (Charlie Korsmo)


I have no problem admitting that I love this movie.  Come on, the geeky aspiring writer gets the girl.  What could be better than that, right?  How about you: have you seen it? did you like it? do you have a guilty pleasure movie? do you like Barry Manilow?  Here there be love, true love, comedy, jocks, kleptomaniacs, stoners, nerds, and every other cliche high school group, even the monsters.  Thanks for playing along.

Chapter 41

You should be wary of continuing on (yes worth repeating – you’ll understand in a minute).  It isn’t all happy silly love and redemption from here on out.  Brig has tough choices to make.  Battles will be fought… that is not just an idle threat.

(Prior chapters can be found here.)


You should be wary of continuing on.  If you stop now you won’t get the whole story but you will end on a happy note and be able to provide whatever ending you want to this tale.  If you continue on… well, I promise nothing.

You’ve been warned.  That’s the best I can do.

The rest happened, or so I’ve been told and now I’m telling you, whether you read on or not.

Brig watched that hour pass an inch at a time as the sun moved across the sky and the shadows extended towards the west.  It was quite possibly the longest hour of his life, and that was saying a lot given the life in question.  Bar fights, gun battles, jail time, and years lost in the mire of booze were nothing compared to the dread that twisted in his stomach with each inch of fading daylight as he waited to return to Emmalou’s place.

If you’ve ever felt the twisting, gnawing, pull of love in your guts and the resulting thoughts your mind conspires to parade in one after the other you know exactly what Brig was experiencing in those moments.  He questioned his motives, his feelings, and his sanity.  He questioned Emmalou’s motives, feelings and sanity too for agreeing to join him for dinner, for possibly wanting anything to do with him in the first place.  He was a wretch and she was perfection.  They couldn’t possibly work together and yet that same feeling of budding love provided enough hope and optimism that made it worth chasing after all the same.

It’s just one of those things.  You know you shouldn’t mess with it but you can’t help yourself.  Rational thinking?  It was left at the station and you didn’t even waive it goodbye as the train pulled away.  By the time you thought to look back the station was hidden behind the rolling hills.

The one-eyed gunslinger-no-more, armed only with the picnic basket that Mrs. Sorensen had let him borrow and packed up for him with diced meats, a variety of cheeses, a sourdough bread wheel, and a few other odds and ends, knocked on Miss Marsch’s front door a few minutes after the hour had expired.  It was simultaneously as close to her suggested arrival time as he dared to show up and as late as he could convince himself to wait.

The door opened and the sunshine seemed to step out on to the porch with Emmalou, it started somewhere near her smile, probably in that tiny dimple hidden in the corner, and spread out from there.  Brig was speechless at the sight of her but did manage to get his lips to work their way into a smile and his body to half turn so he could offer her his arm.  That was foolish.  What if she doesn’t accept it?

Emmalou gave him her version of a mischievous grin, and then slid left arm through his right and used her other hand to shut the door behind her.   Arm in arm they descended from the small porch and headed down the dirt road towards the sunset.

Were there sparks?  Were there tingles from the contact?  Were they both blushing and giggling internally as their minds processed the physical connection?  Without a doubt.  But, you already knew that, right?

Brig led Emmalou a short distance out of town to a spot he’d found in the first couple of days he’d been in Gunnison doing chores for the Sheriff.  It was a small rise, with a single tree, that had a clear view of the giant rocky peaks rising out of the earth in the north.  The Gunnison River burbled nearby; out of sight, but close enough to hear and marked by the scrub brush that grew along the banks.  The tree was old, with a gnarled trunk, but large sturdy limbs full of lush green leaves sway ever so gently in the afternoon breeze tumbling out of the mountains.  It was simple and beautiful at the same time.

The perfect place for us to eat because it is just like us: I’m simple and Emmalou is beautiful.  This place was made for us.

Emmalou’s thoughts hadn’t progressed quite that far as she was still in state of shock over the view.  How long have I lived in this town and I’ve never made it out here before?  The sun slid an inch further down the western side of the sky and the shadows of the hills and mountains stretched that much further towards the east.  The sections the sun hit were crystal clear in detail to the point that things miles away seemed like she should be able to reach out and touch them.

Brig reluctantly withdraw Emmalou’s arm from his own so he could set the whicker picnic basket down and pull the square piece of cloth that had been folded within.  He quickly spread it out, located four small rocks to hold down the corners and then invited Emmalou to sit with them in the shadow of the tree.  The faced north so they could take in the stunning terrain as they ate their meal.

“How did you find this place?”  Emmalou watched as Brig carefully withdrew the dinner items from the basket one at a time and set them out in front of her.  I’ve seen those hands do some atrocious things and now I’m seeing them carefully, meticulously, set out food for me to dine upon.  Is this the man he would have always been if he had made different decisions along the track of his life?

“Sheriff Brown had me run some errands out this direction when I was working for him,” while he answered Brig began to peel the rind off a hunk of salami, “and I may have made a circuitous route of it heading back into town when I was done.”

Her eyes flashed with curiosity and Brig was helpless to do anything but to elaborate.

“Well, I guess I had been contemplating just not coming back to town.  I was still in the throws of withdrawals at the time and being away from Cole’s watchful eyes had given me a fair amount of hope that I might stumble upon on an abandoned cabin or something off the beaten path that still held a cache of something, anything, that could soothe my desire and quench my thirst.  I didn’t find any booze, but, I did find this spot and while I sat here, momentarily paralyzed by the shakes, I watched the sun set.  The darkness settled in around me, the shakes passed, and I made my way back to town.”

“That’s a fine story, Mr. Coyle.”


She looked at him askance, uncertain, unsure of herself and unsure of him.  She had heard his life story though, he had layed every bit of who he was at her feet and there was nothing left hidden that she needed to uncover.  And I’m still here.  She smiled at him and saw the immediate affect it had on him.

“That’s a fine story, Brig.”


“Yes, you may call me Emmalou, if you want.”

“Thank you, Emmalou.”  Brig handed her a plate with a piece of the dried and peppered meat, along with some grapes, cheese, and a hunk of the sourdough wheel.  She took the plate from him and for awhile the two sat in silence, enjoying their meal, enjoying the scenery, and enjoying just being in each other’s company.  There are moments when it is best to remain silent, to not feel like there can’t be any gaps in the conversation, and those minutes while the two dined was one such moment.  Perfection.

It was shattered by the sound of the hammer on a revolver being cocked.  Well, to Emmalou it sounded like the sound of a hammer being cocked but to the trained ears of Brig, it was actually the sound of two hammers being locked almost simultaneously.  He could also tell in that instant that it guns held by two different people because the ratcheting noise had come from two locations too far away to be a single gunman holding two pistols.

Really, that’s the kind of detail I want to focus on right now?  That I could tell it was two different gunmen?  While I completely missed hearing them walk up behind us, and that is information that would have been better to hear. 

Brig was so irritated with himself that he scarcely reacted at all to the sound that had interrupted their afternoon picnic.  Emmalou, on the other hand, immediately jerked her head around to locate the source of the noise.  Her eyes went wide with surprise and fear and her mouth formed that perfect “o” shape reserved for such occasions.

Brig noticed her reaction, registered the fear behind her eyes, and his irritation with himself for having missed the signs of the gunmen’s approach quickly shifted gears to anger that they would cause her to have such a reaction, that they would dare to cause her to feel such fear.  No one should ever make her feel that way!

Brig slowly shifted his torso and rotated his head around to face the two men.  He didn’t bother looking at their guns.  He didn’t bother acknowledging that they were the two men who had been looking for him and asking questions around town.  He didn’t worry about the advantage they had in the situation.

His face contorted into a glare that few have seen and survived.  Brig’s good eye bore into all four of his would be assassins one at a time.  His anger, his passion, his drive and determination passed through those eye to eye connections and both men took a step back.  Their guns didn’t waiver though.

When Brig spoke, his voice carried iron; his words were not to be trifled with.  “You should turn around and walk away.  Right.  Now.”

Chapter 27

You want more, right?  More of this?  Okay, but only because I know you can handle it.


Brig hadn’t completely lost his head though.  He wanted to say “Good morning Miss Marsch, how are you?”  But, he knew that if he did so she would undoubtedly respond with “Mr. Coyle” as part of her answer.  He didn’t know what to say so he stood there, frozen half way between the table he had just served drinks to and the counter, and kept smiling at Emmalou.  He tried to think of something to say but he couldn’t get his mouth to form any fitting words.  She held his smile in her gaze as long as she could before she blushed and looked away.

The magic of the moment broken, Brig finally found his voice, “How are you this morning?”  He quickly followed with a second question, “What are you doing out and about so early?”

“I’m not really sure…” her voice faltered a bit as she answered.  “I found myself awake early and decided to go for a walk.  My walk brought me here.”  She looked at him again as she finished speaking.  Her beautiful blue eyes shown brilliantly even in the gloom of the bar.

“Do you often find yourself walking into bars so early in the morning?”  Brig jested and took a few steps closer to her partially to be nearer to her and partially so they wouldn’t have to talk as loud to hear one another, thereby decreasing the chance that others might also hear them talking should his name slip out.

She shook her head from left to right, a small tug at her lip revealing the dimple hidden on her left cheek, but had no retort.  She also took a step further into the bar, and closer to Brig.

“Miss Marsch, so wonderful to see you,” Dan’s booming voice came from just over Brig’s shoulder.  The one eyed man turned and found Dan standing right beside him.

How did he sneak up on me like that?

“What brings you to my humble establishment?”

“Well, as I was just telling…”

“Fine fine,” Dan cut her off, “come on up to the counter and pull up a stool.”  The proprietor took Emmalou by her hand and walked her to the front of the bar.  “Can I get you something to drink?  I do have some hidden gems if you’re in the mood, or soda pops if you just want something to wet your whistle, or perhaps a cup of coffee will fit the bill?”

You crazy fool, Brig thought, why are you taking her closer to the gunslingers.  Brig was getting angry, could feel the heat rising within him, and felt an old familiar itch in the forefinger of his right hand and that cooled him off immediately.  Absentmindedly he used the fingers from his left hand to rub away the itch on his trigger finger as he followed Dan and Emmalou up to the counter.

“Coffee.  Coffee sounds lovely, thank you, though I shouldn’t be staying long.”  Emmalou pulled up the stool to the left of the one Dan had been occupying earlier.

“Right away,” Brig responded as he made his way around the counter.  He deposited the coins from the drinks he had just served into the strong box, grabbed a clean mug, poured in some of the strong black brew, and handed it across the counter to Miss Marsch.  “Here you are.  Careful, it’s still piping hot.”

While Emmalou cautiously sipped at her coffee Dan began to regale his audience, Emmalou, Brig, and the man seated to Dan’s right, with a fine tale of his youth the subject of which doesn’t really matter here because none of his audience were paying attention.  The man to Dan’s right was lost in his own thoughts and getting ready to head to work anyway.  Emmalou was wondering how she had ended up drinking coffee in a bar locking gazes with the notorious gunslinger.  Brig, finally understood Dan’s brilliance in getting Emmalou seated, part of their conversation while also being quieted with the cup of coffee in her hand, and therefore less likely to seem out of place and also less likely to mention Brig’s name.  I’ll have to remember to thank him later if this works.

Just then, the two gunslingers stood from their stools and without another word made their way out of the bar.  When the door shut behind them Dan lapsed into silence and Brig gave an audible sigh of relief.  Only as they made their exit did Emmalou notice the two men and she didn’t understand their import until Brig let out his sigh.  Her eyes went wide and her mouth opened into a little “oh” without actually saying anything.

The man next to Dan took his leave then as well.

“Those men…”  Emmalou started.

“They were looking for me,” Brig stated.

“Do you know them?”  There was a slight tremor in her voice.

This is exactly the kind of trouble she was worried about.  “I don’t know their names but I know them all the same from the way they carry themselves, the way they carry their guns.”  She’s going to ask me to leave, and even if I hadn’t promised I would, if I want to avoid bloodshed I should go.

“What are they going to do?”  The tremor was still in her voice.

Wait, is she concerned about her town or about me?  It took Brig a moment to answer Emmalou.  “They’ll be back here before the day is out.  It won’t take them long to ask around town and figure out that ‘Brig Coyle’ is working here.  I believe that may put you in a bit of a spot Dan, I’m sorry about that.”

Dan waved him off.  They may be mad when they come back but there was no money in killing him, they’d leave him be as long as they were still on the trail of the man they did want.

“What are you going to do, Brig?”  The question was little more than a whisper.

Brig?  Brig!  She didn’t call me Mr. Coyle.  What does it mean?  He tilted his head, a look of confusion on his face, “You called me Brig.”

She brushed him off, “What are you going to do?”

Brig would have frowned if he hadn’t been so elated that she used his first name.  He was finding it impossible at the moment to think clearly and be upset about the situation.  Then his thoughts moved away from his selfish grasping for a bit of happiness and on to the people in this town he had grown fond of during his short stay.  He needed to protect them.  The frown finally came.

“I don’t know.  If I stay, they’ll track me down and there will be bloodshed.  I don’t know how much help Sheriff Brown can be in this matter.  They haven’t done anything wrong so there is no call to lock them up but make no mistake it is a fight they want and once they identify me they’ll keep picking at me and picking at me until there will be no alternative but a fight.

“If I go they’ll leave town faster but they may hurt the two of you and anyone else they think they can get information out of to stay on my trail.  You could try to throw them off, claim ignorance of who I truly was but that couldn’t just put you in more danger.  I don’t have many friends in this world, and I’m not okay with the few I have coming to harm to protect me.”

Dan and Emmalou let Brig talk.  Dan had never heard so much out of the man before and was shocked into silence.  Emmalou had heard Brig talk himself in circles before and knew if she let him be he’d come around again and figure out what to do.

“I could confront them, go out and find them right now, tell them who I am and see what they want from me.  I’m unarmed and I don’t think they’ll draw on me as I am but that won’t stop them from sticking around town and seeing what sort of situations they can create to get a gun in my hand.  I’ve seen their kind at work before.

“They are either here because they want to test themselves against ‘the best’ or to get vengeance for some past wrong I caused them or their kin.  They won’t just go away when I refuse to fight them, they’ve come too far and convinced themselves this has to be done.

“I could confront them and then leave town.  That would draw them away from you, away from Gunnison, but if I didn’t make sure they knew exactly where I was headed that could bring them back to your doors to find out what you know about my plans.  That would serve nothing.  If they do stick so close to my trail that they end up on the same train as me that could just bring harm to other innocents.

“We could try to come up with a plan to get them in trouble with Sheriff Brown and have them either locked up or sent away but that seems almost as underhanded as what they might come up with to get a gun in my hand.  Trickery and subterfuge are not things I’m interested in and never have been.

“So where does that leave us?  Should I stay and see how this all unfolds here or should I take to the rails again and try to start over as someone other than Brig Coyle?  Neither is a good option…”

Emmalou took one last sip of her coffee, set the mug on the counter in front of her and stood.  Dan, as was the polite thing to do also stood.  Brig was standing to begin with so he did nothing.  “For what it’s worth,” she said, “I hope you stay.”  Then she turned and made her way out of the bar without another word.

“What does that mean?”  Brig asked, his face contorted in confusion.

Dan laughed heartily and slapped Brig on the back, “I haven’t the foggiest.  Women have always been a mystery to me.”

Dan’s laughter did little to dispel Brig’s tension and dark thoughts.  He still had a decision to make and it was likely he wasn’t going to be happy with the outcome no matter what he chose to do.  His thoughts had to wait though because another group of people entered that needed their early morning drinks before heading out to the mines.  Brig Coyle, the bartender, went back to work.